How to Make Carnitas

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Carnitas, or "little meats," are a traditional Mexican comfort food, made of pork slowly simmered in lard until just tender, then fried until golden brown. This cooking method results in slightly crisp, savory, melt-in-your-mouth morsels of meat. Less traditional interpretations substitute water, stock or orange juice for lard to reduce the calories. Usually made from cubed chunks of pork shoulder, cuts that contain a fair amount of fat, including butt or ribs, can also be used for carnitas. Pair carnitas with tortillas, salsa and guacamole for a festive meal.

How to Make Carnitas
(Alfredo Tisi/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Pork shoulder, butt or ribs
  • Lard
  • Large, heavy saucepan
  • Lime zest (optional)
  • Salt
  • Paper towels
Step 1

Trim most of the fat from the pork, leaving only a thin layer. Cut the pork into small cubes. Add the lard to a large, heavy saucepan, melting it gradually but completely over medium-low heat. Add the pork and a small amount of water. Add lime zest, if desired.

Alfredo Tisi/Demand Media
Step 2

Simmer the pork until barely tender, approximately 40 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high to boil off the water. Cook the pork for an additional 10 minutes, stirring frequently, letting the meat shred, until the carnitas turn a light golden brown.

Alfredo Tisi/Demand Media
Step 3

Remove the carnitas from the pan and spread them on paper towels to drain excess grease. Sprinkle with salt and serve them hot.

Alfredo Tisi/Demand Media
Step 1

Trim most of the fat from the pork, leaving only a thin layer. Cut the pork into small cubes and put them in a large saucepan. Add enough water to completely cover the meat. Add lime zest, if desired. Bring it to medium heat.

Alfredo Tisi/Demand Media
Step 2

Simmer the pork in the saucepan, partially covered, until barely tender, approximately 40 minutes. Uncover the pan and increase the heat to medium-high to boil off the water. Cook the pork in its own rendered lard for an additional 30 minutes. Stir frequently, letting the meat shred, until the carnitas turn a light golden brown.

Alfredo Tisi/Demand Media
Step 3

Remove the carnitas from the pan and spread them on paper towels to drain excess grease. Sprinkle with salt and serve them hot.

Alfredo Tisi/Demand Media

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